Chief Skinner talks tough choices and regrets after Friday riot

Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said the lack of police presence at Friday night's riot was a choice of loss of property over potential loss of life.

Posted: Jun 1, 2020 7:47 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said the lack of police presence at Friday night's riot was a choice of loss of property over potential loss of life.

"I wish we could have done something a little bit differently to have prevented that. But based on how quickly that escalated, that was really difficult," said Skinner.

Despite Skinner's explanation, business owners in the area that was damaged in the riot said they felt they were left out to dry with no assistance from police. 

"And that was a time where I was like, 'Alright, I need an officer,' and they were nowhere, nowhere to be seen. And it's like, again, it's just alarming and scary. And I get it's a scary situation, but like, isn't that what (police are) there for?" said Keifer McInvale, employee at Growler Guys. 

Many business owners said they had to come to their store and defend it themselves from the rioters attempting to destroy and loot.

Shane Evans is an employee at The Stereo Store! He said he understood Skinner's reasons for the lack of response, but still thinks they should've found a way to help protect the community businesses. 

"It was a hard decision but (the owners) would've loved for the police to show some presence and show that they’re protecting the business and business owners so they don't have to go through all this loss of business. The people that work for them, the people, these are local families and local people that need these jobs," said Evans. 

Skinner did admit to some regret on how Friday night was handled, but said the department is full of quick learners, which is why they were extremely prepared for Sunday's march. 

"We regret that it got out of control before we could intervene, 100%, what I don't regret is that if we hadn’t held off and we would've gone in there then people would’ve been hurt, so then the question becomes what’s more important, the safety and lives of protesters and police or the property damage, so I made that call that the safety of lives were more important than property damage," Skinner said. 

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